The eleventh chapter of The Epistle to the Hebrews is often referred to as the “Hall of Faith.” The names of spiritual heroes embraced by Jews and Christians are listed.
Among those giants of the faith are Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab and David. It’s like a walk through Cooperstown. Each name invites reflection and gratitude for exemplary service to God and humankind.
I have compiled my own list of faith leaders. Matthew, Mark, John, Peter, Paul, Deanna, Patrick, Gene, Julie, Yechezkel, Jay, Ken, Sheri, Lao and Hunt. These individuals are the pastors and rabbis from the various congregations on Mercer Island. For those who look to these as shepherds of the flock, these players are “hall of famers.” With uniform allegiance, they take their cuts day-in and day-out. No, not every sermon or homily is a home run, but they are truth-tellers and caregivers who seek to live out the values of the Kingdom of God as they understand it.
October is Clergy Appreciation Month. As such, it is an appropriate season to harvest the fruit that spiritual leaders in our lives have evidenced. It is a perfect time to acknowledge our gratitude through tangible expressions such as handwritten notes, emails, phone calls or invitations to lunch.
Why not take time to reflect on the personal investment your rabbi made in your son’s life in preparation for his Bar Mitzvah? What about the creative ways your minister captured your student’s interest prior to their first communion or confirmation?
Think back to those difficult days when your spouse was packing his or her bags for Heaven. Remember how your pastor sat with you in anticipation of the day of your loved one’s departure? Perhaps your spiritual guide counseled you through a difficult time in your marriage or graced you with unconditional love when your marriage failed.
Our local clergy are those unsung heroes who provide lyrics of faith and a melody of hope when the soundtrack of our lives lacks harmony and is dominated by discord.
Having been a parish pastor for three decades, I understand how easy it is to wonder if your efforts really matter or are making any lasting difference. Now that I am a chaplain, I am able to see the clergy in our community from a different point of view. I consider it a privilege to serve alongside them as an extension of their care giving. I tip my cap to these people of the cloth! This month I invite you to do the same.
Pastor Greg is the chaplain at Covenant Shores.